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J&K: Sandeep Singh, hero of 2016 surgical strike, killed in Tangdhar encounter


SRINAGAR: Lance Naik Sandeep Singh who lost his life while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday was among the brave warriors who conducted the surgical strike on Pakistan. Singh was hit by multiple bullets in the operation on Monday but he continued to fight back. He will be laid to rest in Gurdaspur on Tuesday afternoon.  Lance Naik Sandeep Singh was a part of the elite special forces which conducted the 2016 surgical strikes. He is survived by his wife and a 5-year-old son.

Lt Gen AK Bhatt, Chinar Corps Commander, Mr Dilbag Singh, DGP J&K Police and representatives from various security agencies paid homage to the brave soldier. Reports say Late Lance Naik Sandeep Singh suffered bullet injuries during the fierce operation in Tangdhar sector in which five terrorists were eliminated. He was immediately given first aid and evacuated to 92 Base Hospital but unfortunately succumbed to the injuries.

30-year-old Lance Naik Sandeep Singh joined the armed forces in 2007. He was a native of Village Kotla Khurd of Gurdaspur District of Punjab and is survived by his wife. The mortal remains of the martyr were flown for last rites to his village where his mortal remains would be laid to rest with full military honours. “In this hour of grief, the Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved family of the martyr and remains committed to their dignity and well being,” said the Indian Army in a statement.


MPs, MLAs Won't be Disqualified Before Conviction : SC


New Delhi: Delivering its verdict on a batch of pleas on whether lawmakers facing criminal trial can be disqualified from contesting elections, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that MPs and MLAs won’t be disqualified before conviction in a criminal case. The apex court declined to interfere in the matter and left it to Parliament to frame relevant laws.

Reading out the verdict, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “Parliament must ensure that criminals must not come to politics. No bar on criminal antecedents of political leaders, it’s Parliament to make laws.” He said candidates couldn’t be barred on the filing of the chargesheet. The Supreme Court has reportedly said that every candidate with a criminal case should fill up forms in bold letters. It said every political party must be informed about pending criminal cases and the party’s website should have these details. Even the antecedents of the candidates should be disclosed in public domain, the apex court said. The bench was hearing the PILs filed by NGO ‘Public Interest Foundation’ and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The bench, comprising CJI Misra, Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had indicated earlier that voters had a right to know the antecedents of candidates and the Election Commission could be asked to direct political parties to ensure that those facing criminal charges do not contest on their tickets using their poll symbols.

The Centre had said the judiciary should not venture into the legislative arena by creating a pre-condition which would affect the right of the candidates to participate in polls.  The Election Commission had said the recommendations for decriminalising politics were made by the poll panel and the Law Commission way back in 1997 and 1998, but no action was taken on them.


MHA dismisses Rahul Gandhi’s claim on ex-SPG chief as ‘baseless’, ‘devoid of fact’

New Delhi: The Home Ministry Monday dismissed as “baseless” and “devoid of fact” Congress president Rahul Gandhi‘s statement that a former SPG chief had to quit because he refused to accept a list of officers handpicked by the RSS. It also said the force is a professional organisation which guards the serving prime minister, former prime ministers and their families.
“The comment reportedly made by Gandhi through the media is baseless, devoid of fact and unfortunate, coming from an SPG protectee,” the ministry said in a statement.
Rahul Gandhi, his mother and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka are among the Special Protection Group’s protectees. The SPG is a professional organisation that takes its task of protecting serving prime ministers, former prime ministers and their families entrusted to its security very seriously, and in the highest professional spirit, the ministry said.

Rahul Gandhi, at an interaction with academicians here Saturday, had alleged that educational institutions, the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India and others are “systematically being captured” by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Citing an example, the Congress chief had alleged, “When Mr (Narendra) Modi came to power, a person from Gujarat was chosen to head the SPG. In a short time, he left the position. He told me that he refused a list of SPG officers handpicked by the RSS, and that is why he was sent home.”
The Home Ministry said the matter has been verified and the officer in question, Vivek Srivastava, former SPG director, has specifically averred that he did not have any such conversation with Rahul Gandhi at any point of time.
“The officer has stated that as part of his professional duties he interacted with SPG protectees. However, he has categorically stated that during his interaction with (Rahul) Gandhi, there was no talk whatsoever regarding the appointment of a new director or the reasons for his leaving the SPG,” the statement said.

Stranded Indian Navy commander Abhilash Tomy rescued by French vessel

New Delhi: Indian Navy’s decorated sailor Commander Abhilash Tomy was rescued from the Indian Ocean on Monday, three days after he suffered a severe injury when the main mast of his boat was ripped off in a storm, officials said.
Tomy was sailing his boat as part of the Golden Globe Race (GGR) – a solo sailboat race around the world — when his boat was damaged in the storm about 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia.
Tomy was battling for life on the dismasted sailboat Thoriya with a severe back injury, the officials said.

The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra was coordinating the rescue mission in cooperation with many agencies, including the Australian Defence Department and the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy deployed its P-8i surveillance aircraft to as part of the rescue mission, officials said. A French vessel, Osiris, was also deployed in the rescue mission.

'If Pakistan Wants to be One-Trick Pony...': India's Stern Message Ahead of UN Meet

New Delhi: After the bitter exchange over the cancellation of talks between foreign ministers, the action now moves to the UN General Assembly debate this week where India and Pakistan will square off against each other.
With Pakistan expected to rake up the Kashmir issue during the high-level UN General Assembly session, India said a "one-trick pony" can "regurgitate" the same act but "single act plays" have no resonance on multi-lateral platforms like the United Nations.

“If somebody else would like to be a one trick pony, it is for them to regurgitate and act. We've handled this act many times in past and are confident we'll be able to do it again,” said Syed Akbaruddin.

The Ambassador emphasised that terror is a perennial threat and will be addressed in strong terms at multiple forums.

India works in partnerships, Akbaruddin said, adding that India is proud that its priorities during the General Assembly have great resonance in the international community.
"Single act plays have no resonance in such matters. Anybody can try and be a solo player. However, solo players in a multi-lateral context have neither the past or a future," he said adding that it is a country's call on how they spend the time allocated to them during the UNGA session.
India and Pakistan are to speak on Saturday as part of the UN General Assembly debate. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will speak before Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Pakistan has consistently used the platform of the UN General Assembly to rake up the Kashmir issue and its leaders have sought to internationalise it during their addresses in the General Debate.
Following India's acceptance of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's request for a meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi were slated to meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
However, India called off the meeting, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps "glorifying" Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
Khan had tweeted that he is disappointed at the "arrogant and negative" response by India to his call for resumption of the peace dialogue.
When asked about Khan's response, Akbaruddin said India is a multi-literalist nation and responds to multi-lateral issues of a global nature that it is confronted with. What you have raised is an issue relating to our bilateral ties. Those will be addressed bilaterally in the format that we desire to address them.

OPINION | Weather Bulletin-Like Approach Costs Andhra its 2 TDP Leaders Who Were Shot Dead by Maoists

Till the afternoon of 23 September, the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had not targeted an MLA or an MP for 13 years. The last lawmaker killed was Narsi Reddy in Mahbubnagar district on Independence Day in 2005.
Which is perhaps why when the Visakhapatnam district police informed Araku MLA Kidari Sarveshwar Rao and former legislator Siveri Soma that they were on the Maoist hitlist and they needed to be careful during the week when the Communist Party of India (Maoist) observed its formation day, there was a weather bulletin-like approach to the advice. On paper, the police had done its job of warning the leaders and the duo reveled in a false sense of confidence that nothing untoward will happen to them.

But calendar terrorism has always been a hallmark of the Maoist offensive against the state. In this case, to hit at high profile targets when the banned party is celebrating 14 years of its existence, is its leadership's way of motivating its cadre. Sunday's twin assassinations are a chilling reminder of the Red existence on Telugu soil, more than a decade after political will, smart intel-gathering and a sustained offensive cleared them out of then united Andhra Pradesh.

There are conflicting versions over whether the leaders invited the Maoist gun upon themselves or the state police allowed the duo to walk into a trap. Visakhapatnam Range DIG Ch Srikanth says all the public representatives who were perceived to be targets, had been specifically warned not to indulge in any “loose movement”. In fact, Rao was asked to be careful even four days back.

Police sources claim that Somu and Rao went to Livitiput village in Dumbriguda mandal, 15 km from Araku town, without informing the district police in Visakhapatnam. This meant neither was there any police party of at least ten jawans sent as reinforcement with the MLA nor was the standard operating procedure of sending a road opening party in advance to the village to sanitise the area followed. Rao only had his two armed Personal security officers to protect him.
The police version is contradicted by Paderu MLA, Giddi Eswari, who is related to Rao. Like the Araku legislator, Eswari too was elected on a YSR Congress ticket in 2014 and migrated to the Telugu Desam two years later. She claims that the PA to Sarveswar Rao had informed the Dumbriguda police station about the MLA's programme the previous day.
"Rao's PA called the Sub-inspector and told him about the programme at the village. We MLAs travel daily and it is a compulsory routine for our PAs to keep the local police in the loop about our movements," says Eswari.
Even otherwise, the Gramadarshini programme which the two leaders were traveling to, was a much-publicised affair. The Maoists had plotted to take the MLA hostage and kill him, aware of his presence at the event. If the local police say it was not aware that the MLA was going to Livitiput, it reflects poorly on its claim of having its ears to the ground.
The Andhra Pradesh government's first reaction also suggested that it had not taken the Maoist warning seriously.
"We have not had any attacks on lawmakers in the last four years in Andhra Pradesh since bifurcation," said Chinna Rajappa, Andhra Pradesh home minister.
But there were enough indications that Rao was on the radar. He had received a threat letter from the the Maoists in April this year. In July, tribals protested demanding the cancellation of a mining lease obtained by Rao in the name of his brother-in-law. Rao was accused of securing the licence using political clout, without the mandatory approval of the gram sabha. Rao's journey into Livitiput, just 12 km from the Odisha border, was therefore like walking into the Maoist den. Particularly, when it is common knowledge that the Reds take up issues that concern the tribals, to widen their support base.
Do the killings mean that the Maoists have regained strength? No. Police estimate put the number of Maoists operating in the Andhra-Odisha border (AOB) zone at around 100. Recruitment has gone down significantly and over the past few months, the Maoist unit in AOB have imported cadre from south Chhattisgarh. The police claim this has led to resentment as those from Bastar aren't happy in the new environment as the food and the language are alien. The Maoist hope would be that an incident like Sunday would help the outfit woo young impressionable minds from among the tribals.
What does it mean for the Andhra police, home to the elite anti-Maoist Greyhounds strike force? This is a rude wake-up call for the force, a reminder that there is no room for complacency. The attack, according to police officials, also has the signature of top Andhra Maoist leaders like Ramakrishna and Chalapathi. In 2016, the police exulted, believing that it had eliminated Chalapathi in an encounter but it turned out to be false information. The Greyhounds will have to return to its time-tested strategy of going after the big guns, if it has to eliminate the Maoists in its last bastion on Andhra soil.
(The writer is a veteran journalist. Views expressed are personal.)

Army Called to Rescue 2 People Stranded in Flash Floods in Himachal's Kangra; Schools Closed

Shimla: The Army has been called to rescue two persons stranded due to flash floods in Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district, an official said Monday.
They are stranded at Saurabh Van Vihar, a park, in Palampur. Two scooters and a car were washed away in the flash floods in the area, he said.

Normal life is hit since Saturday due to heavy rains in the mid hills and plains, and snowfall in the upper hills of Himachal Pradesh. Schools in at least nine of 12 districts will remain closed on Monday after rains and snowfall lashed many parts of the state.

All government and private schools in Shimla, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu, Chamba, Mandi, Kinnaur, Solan and Hamirpur districts have been directed to remain closed as a precautionary measure.

While only government and private schools will remain closed in Shimla and Sirmaur districts, the deputy commissioners of the seven districts of Kangra, Kullu, Chamba, Mandi, Kinnaur, Solan and Hamirpur have ordered closure of all government and private educational institutions, including schools, colleges, ITIs and Anganwari Kendras on Monday.
Kangra DC Sandeep Kumar warned the general public and tourists to stay away from rivers and nullahs to avoid any untoward incident. In case of any emergency, administration may be contacted at 1077.
Water level in dams and rives has increased a lot and water is being released from various dams, district officials added.
The Met Office has forecast heavy rains and snowfall in the upper hills till Monday. Several roads in various parts of the state, especially in Kinnaur and Chamba districts, were blocked due to landslides, heavy rains and snowfall, district officials said.
Twenty stranded people were rescued from the Rohtang Pass, which saw about four feet of fresh snowfall on Sunday, a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) official said.
Chamba sub-divisional magistrate has warned the people not to go near the Ravi river and other nullahs as water is being released from the Chamera dam.
The water level in Beas is increasing due to incessant rains in the catchment areas. An empty luxury tourist bus was washed away in the flooded river in Manali, ANI reported.
In Kangra, the Larji dam gates are being opened and, if the situation persists, the shutters of Pandoh dam can be opened at any time, officials said, adding that it had been raining continuously in Jawali town since Saturday evening. The river was also in spate in Hamirpur district. There was no supply of drinking water in various areas of the district as there was no power. There was heavy loss to the crops, officials said.
The state received moderate-to-heavy rainfall since Saturday, with Naina Devi town in Bilaspur district being the wettest with 178.2 mm of rainfall. Sarkaghat town in Mandi district recorded 137 mm of rain, followed by Mehre (132.6 mm), Manali (127.4 mm), Dharamshala (125.2 mm) and Kasauli (105 mm), the meteorological department said. Shimla received 47.1 mm of rain.
Kalpa was the coldest place with minimum temperature of nine degrees Celsius. In Dalhousie, the minimum temperature was 10.1 degrees Celsius, followed by Kufri (10.6 degrees), Manali (10.8 degrees), Shimla (13 degrees).
(With PTI inputs)

Rs 5,000 Crore Bank Fraud: Has Gujarat Pharma Tycoon Nitin Sandesara Fled to Nigeria?

New Delhi: Nitin Sandesara, absconding director of a Gujarat-based pharma company which is being probed in a Rs 5,000 crore fraud case, was reported to have been arrested in Dubai last month. But according to sources in the CBI and the ED, Sandesara is not in the UAE and is likely to have fled to Nigeria.
“There were reports that Nitin Sandesara was detained by UAE authorities in Dubai in the second week of August. The information was incorrect. He was never detained in Dubai. He and other family members probably left for Nigeria much before that,” an official was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Sandesara’s other family members, including brother Chetan Sandesara and sister-in-law Diptiben Sandesara are also believed to be hiding in Nigeria.
CBI has booked Vadodara-based Sterling Biotech, its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, former director Andhra Bank Anup Garg and some unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud case.

It is alleged that the company took loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which had turned into non-performing assets. As per the FIR, the total pending dues of the group of companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016. The ED has taken the FIR into cognisance.

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested few people in this case including Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan, former Andhra Bank director Anup Garg and Sterling Biotech Ltd director Rajbhhushan Dixit.
Multiple prosecution complaints or charge sheets have also been filed by it before a special court. It had also attached assets worth over Rs 4,700 crore of the pharmaceutical firm in June this year.
In August, officials had said that Sandesara was arrested by Dubai police based on a non-bailable arrest warrant issued by an Indian court.

Rewari Gang Rape Case: Two prime accused, including Army man, arrested

Chandigarh: Ten days after a 19-year-old woman from Rewari district was gang raped, the Haryana Police Sunday arrested two key accused in the case, including an Army man, who were on the run.
DGP B S Sandhu said with the arrest of Manish and the Army man, Pankaj, all the key accused allegedly involved in the incident, have now been arrested.
“Both the prime accused in the case, who had been on the run, have been arrested,” DGP Sandhu told PTI. Earlier, another key accused, Nishu, and two others had been arrested in connection with the incident which had triggered nationwide outrage.

The gangrape had prompted opposition parties to demand Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s resignation on moral grounds, alleging the state had failed to protect its daughters.
After the incident took place on September 12, the Haryana Police had set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
The woman was abducted at a bus stop in Kanina town in neighbouring Mahendragarh district on September 12 while she was on the way to a coaching class, the police had earlier said.
She was allegedly drugged and gangraped at a room housing a tubewell for irrigation.

Iran holds US, allies accountable for terror attack

Tehran: Top Iranian officials have said the US and its regional allies are responsible for the terror attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz on Saturday.
At least 25 people were killed and 60 others injured in a terror attack on a military parade in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz, IRNA news agency quoted Ali Hossein Hossein Zadeh, political deputy of the Khuzestan governor, as saying.
Military forces and citizens who had gathered to watch the parade were among the killed, the report said.

“This crime is the extension of the plots by the US allies in the region, seeking to create insecurity in Iran,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, the Iranians “will continue their path of honour and overcome all the hostilities,” Khamenei added.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said those who have provided “propaganda and intelligence support” for the terrorists are accountable for the attack.

Rouhani ordered Iranian intelligence agencies to arrest the perpetrators behind the attack.

“The Islamic republic will give a crushing response to the slightest threat against the country,” he vowed.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also tweeted that “Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives.”

On Saturday morning, four armed men clad in the uniform of Iranian Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) attacked the military parade in Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan Province, which was marking the anniversary of Iran-Iraq war in 1980-1988.

Al-Ahvazieh, an Iranian Arab-affiliated group, has claimed responsibility for the terror attack, saying it is fighting for the rights of the Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan.

Shiite-dominated Iran considers the Al-Ahvazieh a separatist and terrorist group supported by Saudi Arabia, its Sunni-majority arch rival in the Gulf.

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