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Farmers' Killing: Minister's Son Gets 8-Week Bail

NEW DELHI, Jan 25: Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni's son Ashish Mishra, accused of killing protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh in 2021, was granted bail for eight weeks by the Supreme Court today.

Ashish Mishra cannot live in Uttar Pradesh or Delhi and its nearby areas while he is out on bail. He has been ordered to leave Uttar Pradesh within one week.

The Supreme Court said any attempt by Ashish Mishra or his family to influence witnesses would lead to his bail being cancelled.

On October 3, 2021, Ashish Mishra's SUV allegedly ran over four farmers and a journalist at Lakhimpur Kheri during a protest march against three controversial farm laws. The SUV driver and two BJP workers were allegedly killed in violence triggered by the incident. He was arrested days later.

Ashish Mishra had challenged the Allahabad High Court's order rejecting his bail.

The families of the farmers have alleged pressure and bullying of witnesses by Ajay Mishra, a powerful BJP leader and the country's junior Home Minister.

Last week, the Supreme Court said an accused could not be incarcerated for an indefinite period unless proven guilty.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, opposing bail, had said it would "send a terrible message" to society.

Mukul Rohatgi, representing Ashish Mishra, argued that his client has been in custody for more than a year and, given how the trial was proceeding, it could take seven to eight more years.

Ashish Mishra and 12 others will face trial for murder and criminal conspiracy among other charges.

PM Names 21 Largest Islands In Andaman And Nicobar After 21 Indian Heroes

NEW DELHI, Jan 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi named the 21 largest unnamed islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands after Param Vir Chakra awardees in a ceremony on Monday on the occasion of Parakram Diwas.

The Prime Minister also unveiled the model of the National Memorial dedicated to Netaji to be built on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, earlier known as Ross Islands. Home Minister Amit Shah was also present at the ceremony in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The largest unnamed island was named after the first Param Vir Chakra awardee, Major Somnath Sharma, who lost his life in action on November 3, 1947 while fighting Pakistani infiltrators near Srinagar Airport.

"These islands have been named after the 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees, viz. Major Somnath Sharma; Subedar and Hony Captain (then Lance Naik) Karam Singh, MM; 2nd Lt. Rama Raghoba Rane; Nayak Jadunath Singh; Company Havildar Major Piru Singh; Capt GS Salaria; Lieutenant Colonel (then Major) Dhan Singh Thapa; Subedar Joginder Singh; Major Shaitan Singh; CQMH. Abdul Hamid; Lt Col Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore; Lance Naik Albert Ekka; Major Hoshiar Singh; 2nd Lt. Arun Khetrapal; Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon; Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran; Naib Subedar Bana Singh; Captain Vikram Batra; Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey; Subedar Major (then Rifleman) Sanjay Kumar; and Subedar Major Retd (Hony Captain) Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav," PMO further stated.

The Government had declared January 23 as Parakram Diwas in 2021 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Keeping in mind the historical significance of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and to honor the memory of Netaji, Ross Islands was renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep by the Prime Minister during his visit to the Island in 2018. Neil Island and Havelock Island were also renamed Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep.

"Giving due respect to the real-life heroes of the country has always been accorded the highest priority by the Prime Minister. Going ahead with this spirit, it has now been decided to name the 21 largest unnamed islands of the island group after 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees," the statement from the PMO read.

The largest unnamed island is named after the first Param Vir Chakra awardee, the second largest unnamed island will be named after the second Param Vir Chakra awardee, and so on.

This step will be an everlasting tribute to our heroes, several of whom made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

Meanwhile, Modi along with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Leaders of parties in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Members of Parliament, former Members of Parliament, and other dignitaries will pay floral tributes at the portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the Central Hall of Parliament House on the latter's birth anniversary.

The portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was unveiled by the then President of India N Sanjiva Reddy, in the Central Hall of Parliament House on January 23, 1978.

According to Lok Sabha Secretariate, it was recognised that the floral tributes could serve as an effective medium in spreading greater knowledge and awareness about the lives and contributions of these towering national icons among the youth of the country.

Accordingly, Parliamentary Research and Training Institute for Democracies (PRIDE), Lok Sabha Secretariat has launched the programme titled 'Know Your Leaders'.

Born on January 23, 1897, Netaji played a crucial role in India's freedom movement.

Subhash Chandra Bose established the Azad Hind Fauj. While there is a controversy over Bose's death in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945, the Central government had in an RTI (Right to Information) in 2017 confirmed that he had died in the incident.

Last year, on the occasion of Netaji's 125th birth anniversary, the Prime Minister unveiled the hologram statue of the freedom fighter at India Gate in Delhi.

Mary Kom To Lead Panel To Manage Wrestling Body Affairs Amid #MeToo Row

NEW DELHI, Jan 23: Boxing great and Olympic medallist Mary Kom will be leading the sports ministry's Oversight Committee to manage day-to-day affairs of wrestling body amid #MeToo row.

The ministry on Saturday had directed the Wrestling Federation of India to suspend "all ongoing activities with immediate effect", including the Ranking Tournament in Gonda, UP, Sharan's stronghold.

It also suspended Wrestling Federation of India's (WFI) assistant secretary Vinod Tomar, a fallout of the grapplers' allegations of sexual harassment and corruption against the sports body's chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Last week, union sports minister Anurag Thakur had announced the formation of the oversight committee after a lengthy meeting with the protesting wrestlers including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Babita Phogat, among others.

"It has been decided that an oversight committee will be formed. Names for which will be announced tomorrow. The committee will complete its investigation within four weeks. The wrestlers put forward their demands. I have assured them that appropriate steps will be taken. All allegations of sexual harassment and financial misappropriation will be probed," Thakur said in a press conference on Saturday.

"Till the investigation is over, he (Singh) will step aside and co-operate with the investigation and the oversight committee will run the day-to-day affairs of WFI."

Earlier, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) formed a seven-member committee to probe wrestlers' allegations of sexual harassment against federation president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Mary Kom is the chairman of that panel too.

Indian Weightlifting Federation of India (IWLF) president Sahdev Yadav, archer Dola Banerjee, Olympic medal winning wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt are part of the panel among others. The committee will also have two lawyers. The panel will first talk with the protesting wrestlers and then the WFI before reaching any conclusion.

Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in both the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, on Wednesday had said that "national coaches molested female wrestlers over the years and were given death threats by WFI officials."

She along with other top Indian wrestlers sat a massive protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi from Wednesday where they called for the removal of the WFI president from the post.

Rio Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, world championship medallist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Anshu Malik, Sonam Malik, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha, Amit Dhankar and CWG medallist Sumit Malik were among the wrestlers who assembled at the famous protest site.

"It's better to die once rather than slowly dying everyday. We are not able to sleep at night as we have no idea whether we are going to participate in the competition or not. Whether we will be going to the national camp or not. We doubt that these coaches and their supporters may spike our food and we may get positive during the doping test," Vinesh Phogat earlier had said.

"So we are worried about all these things. As the president Brij Bhushan ji was saying that he is innocent, I am telling you that we have sent numerous mails to him but he never replied to any of them. Now do we have to go to his room for each and everything?"

Vinesh, a world championship medallist and Olympian, also claimed that several coaches at a national camp in Lucknow have exploited women wrestlers, adding that there are a few women at the camp who approach wrestlers at the behest of the WFI President.

"Some coaches are close to the national federations. Those coaches have exploited young girls. Don't know how many young girls have suffered due to them," Vinesh stated.

The 28-year-old though clarified that she herself has not faced such exploitation but claimed that she had received death threats at the behest of WFI president from officials close to him because she dared to draw Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attention to several issues plaguing Indian wrestling when she met him after the Tokyo Games.

"I know at least 10-20 women wrestlers who have told me about the sexual exploitation they faced at the hands of (the) WFI President. They told me their stories. I can't take their names now but I can definitely reveal the names if we get to meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of the country," Vinesh said.

"I have received death threats from people who are close to the WFI President. If anything happens to any of us sitting here, only the WFI President will be responsible."

US's Big Move In India To Reduce Delays For First-Time Visa Applicants

NEW DELHI, Jan 23: With an aim to cut delays in visa processing in India, the US has launched new initiatives, including scheduling special interviews for first time applicants and increasing strength of consular staff.

As part of the multi-pronged approach to cut the visa backlog, the US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad conducted "special Saturday interview days" on January 21.

"On January 21, the US mission in India launched the first in a series of special Saturday interview days, as part of a larger effort to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants," the US embassy said on Sunday.

"The United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad all opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews," it said in a statement.

The mission will continue to open "additional slots" for appointments to take place on select Saturdays in the coming months.

"These additional interview days are just one component of a multi-pronged initiative to address the backlog in visa processing caused by COVID-19," it said.

It said the US State Department has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous US visas.

Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase visa processing capacity, it said.

The US mission in India released more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. While B1 is a business visa, B-2 is tourism visa.

The mission said the Consulate General in Mumbai also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments.

"By this summer, the US mission in India will be at full staffing, and we expect to be processing visas at levels from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic," the embassy said.

The statement said as travel restrictions have been lifted, the mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 8,00,000 nonimmigrant visas in 2022, including record numbers of both student and employment visas.

"In every other visa category, interview wait times in India are at pre-pandemic levels or lower," it said.

Consulate General Mumbai currently adjudicates the most visa applications in India and is one of the largest visa operations in the world, the embassy said.

"Our consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travellers and bring down wait times," said Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard. "This is part of a Mission wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States," the official said.

All Is Not Well In Ladakh: Man Who Inspired '3 Idiots' Appeals To PM

LEH, Jan 23: Sonam Wangchuk, the social reformist from Ladakh whose life story inspired the Bollywood film '3 Idiots', has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ensuring the safety and protection of Ladakh as studies suggested the extinction of nearly 2/3rd of the glaciers in the Union Territory.

Talking to a news agency on Sunday, Sonam Wangchuk stressed that if the carelessness continued and the Ladakh is refrained from being provided protection from the industries, the glaciers here will extinct, thus creating enormous problems due to water scarcity in India and its neighborhood.

"If measures are not taken, the industries, tourism, and commerce will continue to flourish in Ladakh and will eventually finish it. Recent studies from Kashmir University and other research organizations have concluded that glaciers in Leh-Ladakh will finish nearly to its 2/3rd if they are not properly taken care of. A study by Kashmir Univesity has found that the glaciers surrounded by highways and human activities are melting at a comparatively faster rate," Wangchuk said.

"Global warming due to America and Europe alone is not responsible for this climate change, but the local pollution and emissions are equally responsible for this. In areas like Ladakh, there should be minimal human activities so that the glaciers can remain intact for the locals here and the country across," he continued.

Further, stressing the need for the adoption of sustainable development, the engineer-turned-education reformer appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the protection of Ladakh and other Himalayan regions from "industrial exploitation". It will help safeguard the lives and employment of the people, he added.

"It is my appeal to the Prime Minister to provide protection to Ladakh and other Himalayan regions from this industrial exploitation as it will impact and safeguard the lives and jobs of the people. However, I believe that besides the government, the people should also be equally concerned about climate change and look after the measures to mitigate it," he said emphasizing to adapt to the sustainable mode of living that the resources are being used to meet the development goals while keeping them preserved for the coming generations so that the nature can continue providing its resources and services to the humans.

He further appealed to the children to avoid the wastage of food and clothes as it technically harms the environment in return.

In a 13-minute long video shared by Wangchuk on his YouTube channel, he 'urgently' appealed to the people of the country and the world to help protect the "environmentally sensitive" region of Ladakh. He has also highlighted to Modi to intervene and safeguard the ecosystem under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution.

"This is an urgent appeal from Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh (in the Indian Himalayas) to the people of India and the world to help protect the environmentally sensitive region of Ladakh. He appeals to the Prime Minister of India to intervene and safeguard this fragile ecosystem under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution," the description of the Youtube video read.

"ALL IS NOT WELL in Ladakh! In my latest video I appeal to @narendramodi ji to intervene & give safeguards to eco-fragile Ladakh. To draw attention of Govt & the world I plan to sit on a 5 day #ClimateFast from 26 Jan at Khardungla pass at 18000ft -40 degree C," he said in a Tweet.

Wangchuk also expressed that he wants his message to reach PM Modi and the people on Republic Day, for which he would sit on a five-day fast at the Khardongla pass.

"I will hold this 5-day long fast (Sanketik Anshan) at the Khardongla pass at a temperature of minus 40 degrees to deliver my message that these glaciers will not live anymore if we continued doing such hazards to the Earth," he said.

In another tweet, Wangchuk wrote: "A TEST RUN for my #ClimateFast at #Khardungla 18,000 ft minus 40 degrees Celsius starting 26th January... But the test is on my rooftop at #HIAL Phyang at 11,500 ft Will update about the -20 experience in the morning #SaveLadakh."

Born in 1966, Wangchuk, a mechanical engineer and Director of the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL), was a recipient of the Magsaysay Award in the year 2018.

Wangchuk's personality inspired the fictional character of Phunsukh Wangdu essayed by Aamir Khan in the 2009 film.

The Ladakh-based engineer is known for setting up his innovative school, the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), whose campus runs on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting, or heating. He set up the SECMOL in 1988 with the aim of supporting Ladakhi children and youth and training the students whom the system termed as failures.

In 1994, Wangchuk launched Operation New Hope to bring reforms to the government school system.

Woman Allegedly Gangraped By Ticket Checker, Another Man On Moving Train

SAMBHAL, Jan 22: A Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) has been arrested for allegedly gang-raping a woman along with his companion in an AC coach of a moving train in Uttar Pradesh, the police said on Sunday.

The incident happened on January 16 in the Chandausi area of the Sambhal district, officials said.

KB Singh, Chandausi Station House Officer (SHO), said that the accused TTE has been identified as Raju Singh, and was known to the woman.

The woman lodged a complaint at Government Railway Police (GRP) station in Sambhal district, on the basis of which the accused TTE was arrested.

"The woman was waiting at the Chandausi railway station on January 16 when the accused TTE gave her a sit in the AC coach. She was going from Chandausi to Prayagraj's Subedarganj. The accused was known to the woman. At around 10 pm between Chandausi and Aligarh, the TTE came with another person, whom she does not recognize, and allegedly raped her," said Singh.

The woman said that she did not recognize the other person. The police showed many TTE but the another accused was not traced," he added.

On the basis of the woman's complaint, a case has been registered under IPC Section 376D. The police further said that efforts to identify and trace the other accused are on, and they were further looking into the case.

Saurabh Kirpal, Gay Lawyer, Should Be A Judge, Says Supreme Court Again

NEW DELHI, Jan 19: The Supreme Court Collegium that decides on judges' appointments, in a first, has made public the reasons for the government's objections to the elevation of three senior advocates and its own response in the matter.

The Collegium uploaded the letters to the Centre on the Supreme Court website, publicly refuting its objections to the elevation of Saurabh Kirpal to the Delhi High Court, Somasekhar Sundaresan to the Bombay High Court and R John Sathyan to the Madras High Court. Refuting all objections, the court has made the recommendations for a second time. Under the rules, the government has to accept a name that is sent by the Supreme Court Collegium for a second time.

The court's move to make public what customarily remains a confidential document, comes amid the tussle with the government over judges' appointment. Kirpal's name was rejected by the government along with multiple others in November last year.

The Supreme Court, in its response today, has rejected both reasons cited by the government -- that the candidate is openly gay and his partner is a Swiss national.

The communications from the Research and Analysis Wing "do not reflect any apprehension in regard to the individual conduct or behaviour of the partner of Saurabh Kirpal having a bearing on national security," read the letter, signed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph. Pointing out that the country of his origin 'is a friendly nation," the judges said many holders of constitutional offices have spouses who are foreign nationals and so Kirpal's candidature cannot be rejected on that ground.

"The fact that Saurabh Kirpal has been open about his orientation is a matter which goes to his credit... it would be manifestly contrary to the constitutional principles laid down by the Supreme Court to reject his candidature on that ground," read the letter from the court.

The court said Kripal could have avoided comments to the media but it is not a negative as the case has been pending for five years. His elevation, the court added, has to be done expeditiously.

In an interview to a TV channel in November last year, Kirpal had said that he believed his elevation was viewed with disfavour because of his sexual orientation. "I don't think the government necessarily wants to appoint an openly gay person to the bench," Kirpal, 50, had said.

The court also uploaded a second recommendation for another advocate – Somasekhar Sundaresan of the Bombay High Court – whose candidature was rejected as he expressed his views on social media on "matters which are the subject matter of consideration before the courts".

The top court said "All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for judgeship is a person of competence, merit and integrity".

R John Sathiyan has posted an article on social media that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the top court said its its second recommendation of the lawyer. He also had another post "regarding committing of suicide by medical aspirant Anitha, who ended her life in 2017 since she was unable to clear NEET, portraying it as a killing by 'political betrayal' and a tag stating 'shame of
you India' came to notice."

The court said the Intelligence Bureau has said he enjoys good personal and professional image, and has no overt political leaning. In this backdrop, the adverse comments of the IB "will not impinge on the suitability, character or integrity of Shri Sathyan," the letter read.

The top court's unprecedented move to make the documents public comes days after Vice-President and Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar's comments escalated the legislature versus judiciary debate.

Dhankhar has questioned the historic 1973 Supreme Court judgment on the Kesavananda Bharati case and the resulting basic structure doctrine. He also indicated that the judiciary should know its limits. The Congress had called it "extraordinary attack on the judiciary".

2 Minors Rape 9-Year-Old Girl, Record Video To Blackmail: Cops

MATHURA, Jan 15: A nine-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two minor boys, who also made a video of the act and threatened to make it viral on social media if she told anyone about it, police said.

Station House Officer (SHO) of Highway Police Station Chhote Lal said on the basis of the complaint lodged by the relatives of the victim, an FIR has been registered and the girl has been sent for a medical examination.

According to the relatives, the incident took place on Saturday evening when the girl was alone in the house. The boys, who live in the neighbourhood, entered the house and began molesting her. When she protested, they raped her.

The accused also made a video of the incident and threatened to share it on social media platforms if the victim told anyone about it, according to the complaint.

Karnataka High Court Halts Inauguration Of Isha Foundation Statue Near Bengaluru

BENGALURU, Jan 11: The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday ordered status quo on the unveiling of Adiyogi statue and the opening of Isha Yoga Centre at the foothill of the Nandi Hills near Bengaluru.

Issuing notices to the State, the yoga centre, and 14 other respondents, the court issued the interim order of stay.

The statue was scheduled to be inaugurated by Sadguru's Isha Foundation on January 15.

The public interest litigation (PIL) alleged that a commercial enterprise was being set up in an ecologically fragile environment and that the government has illegally allotted land for the purpose.

The PIL was filed by Kyathappa S and a few other villagers from Chikkaballapura.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Ecology, Karnataka government, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, and Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore, are among the 16 respondents.

The PIL alleges that the grievance is that the authorities allowed in blatant violation destroying the environment eco system, watershed, core command area of Nandi Hills, NDB Foothills in Chikkaballapura Hobli to establish a private foundation at the base of the famous Nandi Hills at the instance of spiritual guru of the yoga centre to establish commercial activities in the core area of greenery hillock viz. Panchagiri Nandi Range.

The PIL says the authorities allowed for destructing, defacing the eco system, environment and natural rainwater streams, water bodies, water feeder streams in the foothill of Nandi Hills and Narasimha Devaru Range (Betta) in existence for several centuries in violation of environmental laws, which having direct impact on the living, livelihood, cattle, sheep, wild animals, in the region of Nandi Hills.

The PIL claims that the rivers north Pinakini and south Pinakini originate in Nandi Hills, which would be affected.

It says the yoga centre brought a metal idol of Lord Shiva and assembled to deface the land for the idol installation overnight.

In Uttarakhand's 'Sinking' Town, A Temple Collapses, Houses On Verge, People Out In Cold

JOSHIMATH, Jan 6: A temple collapsed in the Himalayan town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand on Friday evening, heightening fears among residents who have been camping out in the cold as over 500 houses and other structures have developed cracks due to the soil shifting.

A team of experts and scientists is stationed here for a door-to-door survey on Saturday, the day Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami is likely to visit too.

More than 3,000 people are affected, the municipality chief has said. That's over 10 per cent of anthe population in the Himalayan town. Cracks run along and across the roads and are widening constantly in the holy town, an entry point for major Hindu and Sikh pilgrimages and one of the major military bases near India's border with China.

No one was injured in the temple collapse as it was abandoned after it had developed huge cracks. The nearby town of Auli is seeing a similar problem develop; all roads to it have been closed. Also, ongoing projects, including a hydel power plant and the Char Dham road, have been halted.

The state government has said people whose houses are affected and have to vacate will get ₹ 4,000 a month as rent for the next six months from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

On a main road in Joshimath, a tilted hotel building leaning onto the one next to it is emblematic of how unabated development has led to cracks, literally, across the hill town in Chamoli district.

“For precaution, a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been deployed in Joshimath. It is important to stay alert as the area witnesses land subsidence,” said LN Mishra, Chief Development Officer, Chamoli.

At least 40 families have already moved out as soil subsidence gets worse by the day in a region that's among the most susceptible to earthquakes.

The Chief Minister is set to visit after protests by locals who demand a solution or adequate rehabilitation. Experts have been deployed and the state's BJP government says it'll do whatever needs to be done after getting their reports.

Climate change and constant infrastructure development are to blame, say locals.

"Tunnels being dug for hydel power plants have led to this," alleged a local hotelier, "And they continue to blast through rocks to widen roads, build bypasses, even very close to our town."

He added, "We are living in constant fear. People light fires and stay outside in the cold nights as they fear their houses or hotels might collapse anytime."

On the government working on solutions, he said, "Steps should have bene taken many years ago as this is not a new phenomenon. Successive governments have ignored that big projects lead to destruction."

Officially, 561 establishments have reported cracks, according to the Chamoli district administration. Operations of Hotel View and Malari Inn, the one leaning on a building next to it, have been restricted, the statement added.

Others continue to live in the cracked houses or have moved in with relatives or friends.

The district administration has already asked Hindustan Construction Company Limited (HCC) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to be prepared to shelter affected families.

The town, over 6,000 feet high, is considered a gateway for several climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. These include the trek to the pilgrimage centres of Badrinath and Hemkunt Sahib, and to the Valley of Flowers.

Home to the Jyotirmath monastery, it is among the cardinal institutions of Hinduism.

Tara Chand, Peerzada Sayeed among 17 leaders rejoin Congress

NEW DELHI, Jan 6: At least 17 leaders, who had resigned from the basic membership of the Congress and had joined former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad led party, Friday rejoined the party in New Delhi.

The leaders had resigned to support former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who later formed his own party—Democratic Azad Party, which has now been renamed as Democratic Progressive Azad Party.

News agency KNO reported a press conference held at New Delhi saying the former deputy chief minister Tara Chand and former minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed were among the 17 leaders, who rejoined Congress today.

The leaders include Tara Chand, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed, Balwan Singh, Advocate Muzaffar Paray, Advocate Mohinder Bhardwaj, Bhushan Dogra, Virodh Sharma, Narendra Sharma, Naresh Sharma, Amresh Mangotra, Subhash Baghat, Santosh Manhas, Badrinath Sharma, Varun Mangotra, Anuradha Sharma and Vijay Sargotra.

MP Rajya Sabha and AICC General Secretary (Organization), K C Venugopal said the leaders have joined the party again.

He said these leaders and people from across the country including Jammu & Kashmir have also extended their support to the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

He said that former Congress leaders have also observed that they should also extend their support to their own party and thus decided to join back.

Tara Chand while talking to reporters during the presser said that it is time for secular forces to join hands to defeat the ill designs on the ground.

“The secular minded people should join hands to protect the country," he said.

Centre To Deploy 1800 Paramilitary Soldiers To Jammu After Terror Attacks

SRINAGAR, Jan 4: The Centre has decided to deploy more troops in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir after the recent terrorist attack on Hindu families in the region. Sources say 18 companies of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) -- around 1,800 personnel -- are being rushed to Rajouri, where there is widespread panic following two terror attacks in a span of two weeks.

Massive protests have taken place in the district, where many blame the administration for what they call its failure to protect the people.

For the last three days, hundreds of security forces personnel have been engaged in a massive search operation to track down terrorists behind the attack on Hindu families in Rajouri district.

The army, police and the CRPF have launched a joint operation soon after the terrorist attacks of Sunday evening.

Six persons, two of them children, were killed and many more injured in two separate terror attacks in Upper Dangri village on Sunday evening and Monday morning.

In the first attack, two armed terrorists barged into three homes on Sunday and opened indiscriminate fire. Four people were killed and six were injured.

The next day, two children were killed and at least five people were injured in an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) explosion in the same village during a cordon and search operation to track down the terrorists. The blast took place near the home of a victim of Sunday's terror attack, where the terrorists apparently planted the IED, officials said.

These were the second and third instances of civilian killings in the district within two weeks -- on December 16, two people were killed outside an Army camp.

Sources say the Centre has put the J&K administration on notice to track down the terrorists soon.

The CRPF already has a massive presence in Jammu and Kashmir. Over 70 battalions, which is around one-third of the CRPF's total strength, is deployed in the Union Territory.

China Will Interfere With Dalai Lama Succession: Tibet's President-In-Exile

KOLKATA, Jan 4: China is expected to interfere in the succession of the Dalai Lama, and anticipating that eventuality, the Tibetan government-in-exile has worked out a plan for a democratic transition of the leadership role by the spiritual.

In an interview, President of the Tibetan government-in-exile Penpa Tsering pointed out that a replay of the 1995 appointment of a rival Panchen Lama by the Communist government of China while a boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as the incarnate of the Lama was whisked away from the public eye, can be expected.

"What happens after the present Dalai Lama is no more, is a big challenge for the Tibetans, especially if the Sino-Tibetan conflict is not resolved," he said on Tuesday.

"We believe China will definitely interfere with the succession process of the Dalai Lama... They have been preparing for that for the last 15 years," he added.

Tsering, who also holds the title of Sikyong, stated that the Chinese government issued a "diktat" in 2007 on the need for it to be involved in the succession of all reincarnate Lamas.

"This was done, aiming at using religion as a political tool... (Even) though China should not have any role nor any other government," he said.

"They (Chinese) intervened in 1995 when they chose a boy (Gyancain Norbu) as the Panchen Lama. The boy recognised by His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) as Panchen Lama (Gedhun Choeyi Nyima) was whisked away and we still have no news of whether he is alive," he said.

Nyima has not been seen by any independent observer since May 17, 1995. While the Chinese government claims he lives a "normal" life, Tibetan exiles and human rights groups believe that he is being held at a "Chinese gulag as a prisoner of conscience".

Tibetan Buddhists believe that the soul of a high Lama or "living Buddha" after his death may be reborn as "soul boy" and can be found through the interpretation of arcane signs.

"Communist China professes not to believe in religion, yet it wants to interfere in what is a purely a religious function," rued Tsering, adding that the Dalai Lama in jest has said that if the "Chinese government is so interested in re-incarnation, it should study Tibetan Buddhism".

To prepare the world and Tibetans for the day when the 14th Dalai Lama passes away, a six-point plan has been prepared. The cornerstone of the plan, Tsering said, is a democratic transition.

While the religious leadership remains with the Dalai Lama, since 2011, the political leadership of the Tibetan community has devolved on the directly elected Sikyong or president of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Till then, the temporal head of the Tibetan government-in-exile elected by the 'Kashag' or parliament-in-exile was 'Kalon Tripa' or prime minister with the Dalai Lama as the overall head.

A popular uprising in 1959 against the Chinese who had invaded Tibet in 1950, which was bloodily put down killing thousands of civilians, saw the Dalai Lama and many of his followers fleeing to India. A year after that, the Dalai Lama established a democratically-elected parliament.

"The Dalai Lama who was influenced by Indian democracy, which he saw for the first time during a visit in 1956-57, has been preparing us for a democratic future," Tsering said. The Tibetan leader said the Dalai Lama found that while India's democratically functioning Parliament allowed people to speak freely, the Chinese apex legislature of which he was a high official was a place where none could speak their mind, prompting him to adopt democracy in running the affairs of the Tibetan exiles.

"That is why I, a farmer's son, have been able to take on the mantle of the Tibetan political leader... We will carry forward democratically," he said.

Projects Launched To Improve Road Connectivity In J&K, Ladakh

SRINAGAR, Jan 3: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday inaugurated two infrastructure projects to improve road connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union territories, officials said.

Rajnath Singh, who inaugurated 28 projects in virtual mode while on a visit to Arunachal Pradesh, dedicated to people the Maitra Bridge in Ramban district and the double-lane Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri road, they said.

The Maitra Bridge (Jhula Bridge) at Ramban, a 240-feet Bailey suspension bridge, was thrown open to vehicular traffic in just 31 days after work began on the project, two months ahead of its scheduled date of completion, an official spokesman said.

He said the bridge connects Ramban district administrative complex and Gool sub-division.

The Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri double-lane road connects Srinagar to Kargil and Leh with a carriage way width of 7.00 metres and road width of 12.00 metres, the spokesman said.

"This lifeline road link connects township of Kashmir via Manigam, Kangan Hari-Ganiwan, Gund, Gagangir, Sonamarg, Zozila before entering Ladakh. The total length of the road is 84.320 km," he added.

Kashmiri Pandits Hold Candle March For Jammu Terror Attack

JAMMU, Jan 3: Several Kashmiri Pandit migrant employees carried out a candle march on Tuesday against the killing of six civilians by terrorists in Rajouri.
Earlier today, a large crowd gathered in Dhangri village to attend the last rites of the victims.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) team also reached Rajouri's Upper Dhangri village for investigating the case.

Incidentally, four civilians, including a father-son duo, were gunned down by terrorists who barged into their homes in Dhangri village on Sunday night.

Hours later an improvised explosive device (IED) went off around 9 am on Monday at the house of one of the victims. The blast killed two minors and injured 12.

Following both the attacks, on Monday evening, the Medical Superintendent of GMC Association, Rajouri said, "Six people are dead and 12 are under treatment in Rajouri in three Government Medical Colleges, Jammu."

These separate attacks are the third such incidents of civilian killings in Rajouri district in the past two weeks after two people were killed outside an Army camp on December 16.


3 Civilians Killed In Terror Attack In Jammu And Kashmir's Rajouri

JAMMU, Jan 2: Three civilians were killed and nine others were injured after gunmen entered a village in the Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir. Locals say it was a terrorist attack.

The victims have been identified as Deepak Kumar, Satish Kumar and Pritam Lal.

The injured with gunshot wounds have been shifted to the hospital.

Officials said at least two armed men resorted to indiscriminate firing at villagers at Dangri village this evening.

"Firing took place at three houses. Two civilians have been killed and four others are injured. A search operation has been launched," Mukesh Singh, Additional Director General of Police said earlier.

There is chaos at Rajouri medical college hospital as the injured are taken there for treatment.

Doctors at Medical College Rajouri said that they received 10 injured who have gunshot wounds.

"Unfortunately, one of the injured died in hospital and condition of two others is also very critical. We are trying to save their lives" said a doctor.

This is the second incident of civilian killings in the district in the past two weeks.

On December 16, two civilians were killed outside an army camp in Rajouri.



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